From our arts associate, Ann Bloxam Smith, in Monroe:
After a long, cold winter, northeast Louisiana folks are ready to get out of the house and GO DOWNTOWN for the Downtown Gallery Crawl, produced by the artists of ten Downtown Arts Alliance galleries, their friends and sponsors. With nine galleries in downtown Monroe and one in downtown West Monroe, there’s lots of variety in art and other offerings—variety that provides fun for the whole family.
The Downtown Gallery Crawl happens on the first Thursday of every other month, when northeast Louisiana has a great opportunity to see and buy high-quality visual art. Further, many of the galleries provide refreshments and live music, along with artists’ talks. Resident and guest artists are always on hand to talk with patrons about their art. Many guests simply enjoy visiting with their friends (and meeting new friends) at this joyful occasion. And while art lovers are making their way from one gallery to another, they’ll be able to enjoy the music of RIVER JAM at Bry Park on the corner of DeSiard and South Grand—more music, more variety, more fun!
Speaking of South Grand Street, that’s the location of one of Monroe’s outstanding galleries--Livaudais Gallery and Studio. Owner/artist Joli Livaudais, along with her husband Jason Grisham, will host talented photographer Ashley Feagin during the Downtown Gallery Crawl. Feagin will give an artist talk at 6 pm, followed by Q & A with attendees. Her work seeks to bridge the divide between viewer and artist. Effort is given to transform the viewer into a participant who collaborates in the storytelling process. The images she created in “Conveyance” were inspired when her “…personal life began a stage of evolution and adaptation, [and she] began wondering photographically.” She states, “I discovered that I was capturing places that felt familiar even though I had no physical/emotional connection.” Feagin’s work is featured in several books published by Vermont Photography Workplace, and she has presented lectures for the Society for Photographic Education at their regional and national conferences. Feagin received her BA in photography from McNeese State University and her MFA from Louisiana Tech University. Currently she is the Visiting Assistant Professor of Art at Albion College in Albion, Michigan.
The River Gallery (Ouachita River Art Gallery on Trenton Street in West Monroe) will feature Linda Snider Ward during the month of April, including the April 3 Downtown Gallery Crawl. Ward will be giving an artist’s talk at 6:30 pm during the Crawl. Her exhibit, Enter Equus, consists of a new series of paintings created in watercolor, acrylic, and mixed media. She states, “This new series of paintings is about the spirit of the horse, not the actual physical appearance of the horse. I want my art to reach out to the viewer….There is a quiet language without words between my horses and myself….Their beauty, grace, and intelligence inspire me.” Ward is a Louisiana artist with degrees from Louisiana Tech and the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Her work is often shown at the New Orleans Arts Market, a juried venue sponsored by the Arts Council of New Orleans. Guitarist John Farmer will be the musician during the Gallery Crawl.
Along with the DOWNSTAIRS gallery and Arender Studio on Art Alley in Monroe (North 2nd Street just off DeSiard Street), several other art galleries will be presenting a variety of original art. At 428 DeSiard Street is a new gallery, Luna Blue, owned by Kim Batteford and curated by Kelsea McCreary. Luna Blue Yoga Studio and Gallery is proud to host the works of six Louisiana Tech students who are helping to restore and improve downtown Monroe by collaborating on a mural on the side of this beautiful building. Art professor Nick Bustamante is heading up the project and guiding the students as they undertake this large-scale project. Exemplifying the talent of our local and upcoming artists are Whitney Causey, Jennifer Nasser, Mike Nelson, Jesse Suggs, Beth Dixon and Hillary Clary. Crawlers will be able to see the work, visit with the students, and view progress on the building’s mural.
At the UPSTAIRS Gallery on Art Alley, the "featured artist" is actually a duo made up of resident artist Victoria Smith and revisiting artist Betsy Putnam. Their collaborative show, Fragmented Nostalgia, will show works that both artists have had a hand in making while exploring memories. An artist talk for the collaborative show is scheduled for 7 pm the night of the Crawl. Come out and hear Victoria and Betsy explain the means behind the madness.
Next door in the Big Room, Christen Parker with show her mixed media wonders as well as Emily Caldwell with her fantastical mixed media works and Amy Ouchley with her nature-inspired jewelry. Art Professor Joey Slaughter’s Louisiana Tech students will also be joining the gallery show with a themed display of the “young collective.” To round out the group, ULM sculpture majors Lacy Mitcham and Ben Bennett will have works for all to see, while Ricky Sikes will show new paintings including his unique portraits. Louisiana Tech painter Nicole Johnson is a newly discovered artist who will also be exhibiting work.
On DeSiard Street, free spirits wanting a new experience should visit the Palace Gallery, where friend- of-the-Gallery Eric Sutherland will present an interactive photography display. Crowd participation will be welcomed and needed.
MAD Gallery at 130 Art Alley will present Music and Lyrics--acrylic and mixed media paintings by Melanie Douthit. This is a playful collection of work inspired by music; as Douthit says, “Many times a song lyric will give me a visual image that I feel compelled to put on canvas.” Melanie incorporates this theme in her whimsical style with saturated colors, visual fun, and texture. “Many of my collectors use the word happy to describe my art,” says Douthit. Her paintings are in collections throughout the nation and the world, with one of the most popular being “Mardi Gras Dachshund,” which hangs in twenty-five Mimi’s Café Restaurants. Douthit has exhibited her art in various regional exhibits and galleries. She is a juried member of the River Gallery in West Monroe and was featured as the Bayou Artist for the July 2013 issue of Bayou Life magazine. As usual, MAD music during the Crawl will be provided by crowd favorite Gray Matter.
Across Art Alley from MAD Gallery is Sugar Gallery, where Burg Ransom will be showing some of his larger, gallery-wrapped, metallic photographs. Stacy Medaries will be showing new works in aluminum colored with alcohol ink, and Leah Smith Reitzell will have new acrylic paintings to show. Mary Thompson will have new works in oil paint, and Dianne Rosenberg will display her beautiful jewelry. Scott and Crystal Stone will be showing new paintings as well.
Sponsors, led by presenter Creed and Creed Law Offices, are Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau, Northeast Louisiana Arts Council, Sir Speedy, The News-Star, KEDM Public Radio, DeltaStyle, Louisiana Division of the Arts, Restaurant Cotton, BancorpSouth, Heck Law Firm, Rawls DeSigns, Community Trust Bank, Cross Keys Bank, Hollis and Company Jewelers, Atmos Energy Corporation, Lavalle Salomon Law Office, Warehouse Restaurant, Charles Kincade Law Office, and Marsala Beverage.